Introduction: Rope Puzzle

Picture of Rope Puzzle

This is a fun and easy little project to make. I made the main pieces with scrap wood and an old piece of rope. I purchased the wood beads from a craft store but these could have been made from scrap wood blocks as well. The solution is not intuitive so it might be a challenge for your friends and family. See the last step for a solution video.

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Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Saw
  • Drill or Drill Press
  • Drill Bits
  • Sander
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Lighter


Step 2: Drawing

Picture of Drawing

You will be building two of these pieces.

Step 3: Measure/Mark Wood

Picture of Measure/Mark Wood

I cut the blocks to 5" long. You can make this dimension smaller or larger based off your preference.

Step 4: Cut to Length

Picture of Cut to Length

Cut two pieces.

Step 5: Mark and Punch Hole Locations

Picture of Mark and Punch Hole Locations

Mark hole locations per the drawing.

Step 6: Drill Holes

Picture of Drill Holes

Drill 1/2" Diameter Holes per the marks.

Step 7: Small Bead Counter-Bore

Picture of Small Bead Counter-Bore

I counterbored the small beads to allow a pocket for the knots. This picture shows the top side (counterbore) and bottom side (small hole).

Step 8: Ready to Build

Picture of Ready to Build

Cut the rope to 14" Long - make two of these. You should now have all the parts to build your puzzle.

Step 9: Gather Pieces for One Section

Picture of Gather Pieces for One Section

Step 10: Feed Rope Through Wood As Shown

Picture of Feed Rope Through Wood As Shown

Step 11: Push Rope Through Large Wood Beads

Picture of Push Rope Through Large Wood Beads

Step 12: Feed Rope Through Small Bead

Picture of Feed Rope Through Small Bead

I used a lighter to seal the frayed ends of the rope. This allowed the rope to slide through the small hole pretty easy. The counterbore on the small bead should be oriented towards the end of the rope.

Step 13: Tie Knots at the Ends of Rope

Picture of Tie Knots at the Ends of Rope

Step 14: Cut Off Excess Rope

Picture of Cut Off Excess Rope

Step 15: Burn Ends of Rope to Seal

Picture of Burn Ends of Rope to Seal

After melting the ends, add a little glue to the beads. Pull the rope into the counterbore of the outer bead.

Step 16: Puzzle Is Ready

Picture of Puzzle Is Ready

Step 17: In Puzzle Form

Picture of In Puzzle Form

See the video (next step) to show how to solve it. Reverse the process to get it back in puzzle form.

Step 18: Solution

Enjoy your puzzle!


funkysod made it! (author)2017-12-01

I made it. Using materials at hand, I'm pleased with the result. It's been around the family and the enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this!

mtairymd (author)funkysod2018-01-04

Cool. Did you use a tree branch for the ends?

fzumrk made it! (author)2017-12-17

Thanks for the directions and idea! I made one for my nephew with stuff I had laying around my shop.

I secured the ends of the rope by wrapping them with waxed thread and covering with heat shrink tubing if anyone wants to know how I did it.

mtairymd (author)fzumrk2018-01-04

That looks awesome. I like the wood and the ring/nuts were nice additions!

BobH160 (author)2018-01-03

I love this type of physical puzzle, they also infuriate me sometimes when I can remember how I did them. I found the Horseshoe/ring puzzle in a junk shop but it was separated so I put it back together so they wouldn't lose the bits, took me half an hour as I couldn't remember how I did it

mtairymd (author)BobH1602018-01-04

Yeah, I'm the same way. I have multiple puzzles that I've posted on instructables sitting on a table at work. Sometimes I need to go back and look at my own directions to figure out how to solve them :(.

HudsonR1 made it! (author)2017-09-18

I made it. Really nice idea. Everbody over here enjoyed.

mtairymd (author)HudsonR12017-09-18

Nice job!

georgeshaeffer (author)2017-07-18

I've seen this same puzzle done using a slightly loose loop of rope tied around each of their wrists. They are then challenged to separate themselves without untying any of the loops (yes, I solved it - in about 15 seconds).

mtairymd (author)georgeshaeffer2017-07-19

That's a pretty good idea!

telmomendesleal made it! (author)2017-06-13

I changed the measures, but the principle is the same. I also added a finishing touch trying to make it sellable. Thank you very much for your sharing.

mtairymd (author)telmomendesleal2017-06-13

Nice job. I like how all your parts (except for the rope) are homemade.

telmomendesleal (author)mtairymd2017-06-16

Thanks. Now I'm working on making it with different flavours. :-D People who I lend it to really like the challenge and enjoy solving it.

MilanM25 made it! (author)2017-03-04

Nice and easy to made. Thanks

mtairymd (author)MilanM252017-03-04

How long have people been taking to solve it?

MilanM25 (author)mtairymd2017-03-22

Hmm, nobody solve it yet without clue :).

sfaust2 made it! (author)2017-02-24

Yes it's speaker wire and a bit of spare fence post! I have very little yard/space to work so I am joining the local men's shed so this is a proof of concept! I'm going to make some really nice ones for my kids and their school! Thanks for the inspiration

sfaust2 (author)sfaust22017-02-24

My youngest (5) is absolutely amazed! I had to show him the solution, but he memorised it very quickly and is now showing mr 6 how its done!

mtairymd (author)sfaust22017-02-25

I've had a few co-workers solve it within 30 seconds. I've had others take a lot longer. I think the pressure of someone watching you try to solve it doesn't help. Kinda funny though...

mtairymd (author)sfaust22017-02-25

That works...Thanks!

pwood2 (author)2017-02-12

I have a sneaky and devious mind. I recognized the solution from the photo. Think outside the box! Nice job!

mtairymd (author)pwood22017-02-23


mtairymd (author)pwood22017-02-12

Thanks. Yep, some people see the solution instantly while others never get it.

wclapie (author)mtairymd2017-02-23

I'm a never get it apparently. At one time I thought I was intelligent. Go figger.

wclapie (author)2017-02-23

ARRGGHHH..............! Just got the solution.! I feel slow!

mtairymd (author)wclapie2017-02-23

Yeah, some people get it instantly. I've had others that still haven't figure it out.

EyalSch made it! (author)2017-02-17

Thanks for a great idea!

mtairymd (author)EyalSch2017-02-17

You're welcome. It looks good!

algotruneman made it! (author)2017-02-16

Great work and appreciated inspiration. As always puzzles are fun to try. A 3D printed version popped into my head right off. This joins my puzzle drawer cache!

mtairymd (author)algotruneman2017-02-16

3D print...awesome!

mtairymd (author)2017-02-13

I took it to work today. The average solution time was about 5 minutes.

JamesR394 made it! (author)2017-02-13

Very nice :) I couldn't find beads or proper rope, so mine didn't turn out very good, but if you have the materials it's fun to make and fun to solve.

mtairymd (author)JamesR3942017-02-13

That works :)

jncorono (author)JamesR3942017-02-13

Cool !! You can polish the edges and give some tint. I will make mine also :) Great job James!

fzbw9br (author)2017-02-12

I had it figured out as soon as I saw the picture.

I had something very similar in steel!

Nice job!

These things are good fun!

WannaDuino (author)2017-02-12

super, i just bragging to myself, that i already know the secret. ( NOT )

BUT I WAS WRONG. hahaha i had a pity feeling for a few seconds.

Conclusion! No outside the box thinking for me i think.

awesome tricky

nanosec12 (author)2017-02-12

I loved it so much, I gathered some stuff at work and made one for my team to figure out. Mine wasn't as elegant, but your instructable inspired me to give it a go. BTW none of them could figure it out....

Nicely Done !!

mtairymd (author)nanosec122017-02-12

Thanks. I haven't had anyone figure it out yet either. Although my only subjects are my kids. I will bring it to work tomorrow.

kaslo (author)2017-02-12

Very nice and so simple.

mtairymd (author)kaslo2017-02-12


GordonS3 (author)2017-02-12

Makes a great party game using lengths of string tied loosely to people's wrists. Escape by passing string through loop and over hand as with the hole and bead used in the instructable.

mtairymd (author)GordonS32017-02-12

A human version does sound interesting. I could see something like that being used on the TV show Survivor.

CrazyGingerJJ (author)2017-02-12

That's so simple, yet so cool! The solution is so clever!

Great Instructable!

mtairymd (author)CrazyGingerJJ2017-02-12

Thanks. Both of my kids said "I didn't know I was allowed to push the rope through the hole" once I showed them the solution. My daughter said that's cheating!

pwood2 (author)mtairymd2017-02-12

The famous illusionist Max Malini said "I only cheat a little". This is an Instructables for one of his tricks:

gm280 (author)2017-02-11

I love these type puzzles. But I have to admit, I didn't take the time to figure it out. I cheated and looked at the video. Nice puzzle build though.

mtairymd (author)gm2802017-02-12

I'm the same way. I won't spend too long trying to figure something out if the solution is one click away :).

starrmo (author)2017-02-12


mtairymd (author)starrmo2017-02-12


Anirudh Ralhan (author)2017-02-11

I love Puzzles!!! This is AWESOME!!!! Even I posted an instructable on a puzzle I made. Check it out in my profile :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
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